While it may feel more prominent for some of us, we humans have a natural predisposition toward a sweet tooth. As adults, we often work our hardest to deny this inclination, classifying all sweets as something to avoid and minimize in our diet. However, this outlook leads to feelings of deprivation, which in turn only strengthen our craving. What if, instead of labeling foods as “good and bad,” we used our dessert course as the perfect opportunity to reaffirm a commitment to whole, natural foods? When we do this, we can truly have our cake and eat it, too. It will be a much higher quality cake, and prepackaged and processed foods will be a distant memory. This recipe is a perfect starting point if you are new to desserts. Latkes come together easily, take minimal preparation, and your success is not dependent on strict measuring and cooking techniques as required with most baking. Subtly sweet parsnips, full of fiber, potassium, and folate, stand in for the traditional potatoes in this version. The fruit compote is a sweet and tart accompaniment, with the added benefit of being free of artificial sweeteners.
These reinvented latkes are also a great option when you want to impress but don’t have a lot of time. The fruit compote can be made a day in advance; just warm it over low heat prior to serving. The latke batter can be prepared about an hour ahead of time and stored tightly covered in the fridge.
A note about frying: A candy thermometer is ideal for monitoring the temperature of your oil, but if you don’t have one, here are some visual cues to look for. Hot oil will shimmer and flow easily in the pan like water. To test if it is ready for frying, simply place a scant teaspoon of batter into the oil. Small bubbles should immediately start forming around the batter. Also, never fry in oil that has overheated and smoked! Discard and start anew.
Parsnip Latkes with Cherry and Apple Compote
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup boiling water
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 pound parsnips, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated ginger root
1/2 to 1 cup organic canola oil, for frying
2 apples, any variety, cored and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Line a cooling rack with paper towels and set aside.
- Combine the cherries and boiling water and set aside for 15 minutes, while you prepare the latkes.
- For the latkes: In a medium mixing bowl, stir the eggs, sea salt, lemon juice, and flour together until combined. Stir in the parsnips and ginger.
- Fill a medium-sized skillet with canola oil until it is 1/2-inch deep and heat over medium-high to 350°F.
- For each latke, drop 2 tablespoons of batter into the oil and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Work in small batches so the oil stays hot, about 3 to 4 latkes at a time. Fry until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Flip and fry the second side until golden. Transfer to cooling rack.
- While the latkes are cooking: Place the cherries and water into a small pot with the apples, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower to a simmer. Stir occasionally and cook until apples are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Serve 2 latkes topped with 1/4 cup of warm compote.
- Parsnip and Carrot Latkes with Cherry and Apple Compote. Replace half of the parsnips with carrots for a pop of color and added flavor.
- Breakfast Latkes. Dessert for breakfast: serve latkes with a generous scoop of yogurt and top with chopped walnuts.
- Savory Latkes. Make it savory: mix 1 finely sliced shallot into the batter, and top latkes with diced mango, chopped cilantro, and a sprinkle of cayenne.
Patience is a virtue in the kitchen, too! When pan-frying you must only flip the item once, otherwise it will absorb too much oil. Allow the first side of the latkes to cook until crisp and golden before flipping.
Parsnips are an excellent source of a variety of nutrients, including potassium and folate. They are also a significant source of fiber, which is important for maintaining health from your heart down to your gut.
For more health information check out the Yoffie Life Food Encyclopedia page on parsnips.
Be mindful of the “a cookie is still a cookie” rule. Opting for wholesome ingredients and natural sweeteners vastly improves the quality of our desserts and how they make us feel, but it does not give us a free pass to eat them in unlimited quantities! Moderation is key.